What Is Dual-Enrollment?: How High School Students Take College Classes

Dual Education

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For many high school students out there, preparing to get into a good school can be scary. It’s about to get a lot scarier when they realize they are competing with other high school students who are already college students, in a manner of speaking. Of course, this is all the magic of Dual Enrollment programs, which allow high school students to take college courses, often with credit they can use when they properly enroll into higher learning, and often with actual colleges working with schools directly to provide this benefit. Once of the mark of the brightest student, further developments involving enrolling students into these programs might help to make this more common.

It’s gaining prominence, but there are still some drawbacks

In Colorado, a $400,000 federal grant will fund research into these programs to find out the benefits of the growing trend. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, it is hoped that the study will determine which programs work best, and allow for increasing the programs across the state.

“This study will help us identify the hallmarks of successful dual enrollment programs as we look to make them universally available to Colorado students,” explained Kim Hunter Reed, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, according to The Denver Post.

However, there already are some concerns about the effectiveness of these programs. To start with, while they are intended to help students already have credits saved when they formally enroll into college, many schools do not actually accept dual-enrollment credits.

According to a recent report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, schools that do accept credits from these programs often “cherry-pick” which courses they accept as valid. For example, according to The Herald Courier, thought poorly “particularly [of] science courses.” The JLARC report mostly listed specific examples of schools picking and choosing, such as one “officer [who] stated that his university will not accept dual enrollment credits for a specific freshman-level English course,” rather than general trends. In other words, there is more information needed to make statements. Regardless, this is still problematic, as students usually pay to take dual-enrollment courses, in the hope to save a little money in the future.

Generally, speaking what are the pros and cons?

On one hand, they give high-school students their first foray into higher learning coursework, they offer classes high-school students would normally not have access to, and they help ease students to settle on what they want to study. And if their eventual college is obliging, then they have credits on hand to help them graduate early.

On the other hand, colleges can be suspicious of these programs, especially since students can get into them just by paying for them, and not necessarily qualifying for them. They also probably only help if they reflect your eventual major, which admittedly defeats the purpose of helping students choose their major. I told you that this was complicated. And, of course, if your college is less than obliging, then you spent money for more school than you needed.

You’ve sold me! How do I sign up for this?

Regardless, if you still want to enter dual enrollment programs, we can also offer some general guidelines to enter, according to StudyPoint.

Normally, the rules depend on the state. For example, some states provide financial assistance for dual enrollment programs; other states require the student provide their own payments. Usually, however, it requires a 2.5 GPA or higher and the occasional placement test. Students often need to be at least 16 years, but, as they are minors, they will still need the permission of a parent or guardian.

Guidance counselors should also be able to offer individual help. ECampus Tours can also offer some assistance.

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